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In an unprecedented move, the UK government is urging women to use midwives instead of hospitals if they have uncomplicated pregnancies. Britain’s natural health service announced on December 3, 2013, that it was safer for healthy women to have their babies at home, or in a birth center than in a hospital. The new guidelines by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said that women with uncomplicated pregnancies were better off in the hands of midwives than hospital doctors during births. This is incredibly shocking news, given that as recently as 2007, women were advised by the same guidelines to be “cautious” about home births. This finding could really change the way British women think about childbirth, as 90 percent of the roughly 700,000 babies born every year in England and Wales are delivered in a traditional hospital setting. Claim Your 20 Free Pregnancy Tests – Click Here
The guidelines confirmed that hospital births were more likely to end in c-sections or episiotomies than home births. Women who give birth in hospitals are more likely to have an epidural, which increases the risk of a protracted birth where forceps have to be used. The risk of death or serious complications for babies were about the same for babies in both settings, except for first-time moms. First-time moms actually had a slightly increased risk for complications when having a home birth, surprisingly. The clinical practice director for the health institute stated that now first-time mothers with low birth risks would be advised to see a midwife rather than a traditional doctor and give birth in a birthing center. Moms who had already given birth will be told that home birth would be equally safe for their baby, and even safer for the mom than a hospital. However, women will still be able to choose what works best for them.
It’s interesting to see how different things are in Britain when it comes to doctors versus midwives. In the UK, the taxpayer-funded system makes it so that there are no financial gains for doctors to deliver in a particular setting, a reason why such a recommendation would cause widespread doctor outrage here in the USA. Reducing the number of hospital birthsis a smart move for the UK, although the health service said that financial concerns were not a part of the decision at all. A traditional hospital birth cost’s the health system around $2500, while a birthing center costs around $2200 and a home birth costs around $1500. It will be incredibly interesting to hear how this all plays out in the UK.